We reached the end of our hotwired time at the Carlsbad Staybridge Suites with no clear plans on what to do next. It was certainly nice not to have to pack everything up every day, but we checked into extending our stay and the rates on our room would increase considerably. Also we were due to return our rental car at LAX.
So we decided to head to Las Vegas. Because where else would a Quaker family with two small children want to be, really?
So we headed back to the Enterprise to exchange one white sedan for a different white sedan. While Benjamin completed this transaction, I waited in the "visitor parking" area with both children and all our worldly possessions (except, obviously, those that are taking up space at my in-laws' - thanks Howard and Rosalind!). Bear entertained himself by crawling around the parking lot and then licking his hands. Since the dirt did not appear to contain peanuts I decided to let it go.
We loaded up the new car and headed to a park to tire out the children before driving to Barstow, CA. The road-trip guide book suggests that the must-see thing in Barstow is their McDonalds - it is inside a train. Despite Micky D's Chocolate Milk and trains being Bear's favorite things in the world, somehow we skipped this one.
In the morning we enjoyed yet another hotel continental breakfast and then got back on the road. Driving commenced, with the usual amount of Bear screaming, whining about being hungry, and kicking the driver's seat before falling asleep. At which point Pax began screaming. Again, I would like to reiterate for anyone planning on following in our road-tripping footsteps - consider just staying home.
In Las Vegas we were staying at Circus Circus because it was deemed the most "child friendly," of the casinos with its circus acts and indoor amusement park offering. But by the time we got there, Bear was in full meltdown mode, so we hustled through some really expensive lunch and back up to the room for a mostly unsuccessful nap time.
Between Bear plucking every last one of my nerves, Pax making sure some part of me was constantly damp, and the general overstimulating nature of Vegas, I was really, really, ready to be done. I even tried clicking my heels together, just in case that worked. It did not.
But at some point in this haze of wretchedness, an important shift took place. I looked over at Benjamin and instead of thinking, 'this was your idea and therefore all your fault,' I remembered that he's my partner in this, and I realized he's just as overwhelmed and tired and overstimulated and frustrated as I am. And also it was his birthday.
So we hired a babysitter. From the internet. Yes folks, I have gone from someone who cried at the first day of preschool and left my cell phone number with the teachers in case Bear needed me, to someone who leaves her kids with a stranger in a Vegas hotel room based on a 4.5 star google review. Done and done. Benjamin and I went out to see Cirque du Soleil. It was awesome.
The show was fantastic. It elicited all the usual feelings in me brought on by live theater spectacle - the ache in the pit of my stomach for paths not chosen in this life. God how I would love to work on a show like this. (The usual budget of shows I worked on in college was $150, so this was a little different.)
Mostly it was just good to share an experience with my husband that was not about our children. I was reminded that we do, in fact, like each other and enjoy spending time together.
I love you, Benjamin. Happy Birthday!
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